Prop 47 Inmate Releases Already Underway

Hundreds of inmates have been released from county jails across the state, as officials rush to comply with Proposition 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.

Proposition 47, which passed with more than 58 percent of the vote on Tuesday, reduces many non-violent crimes to misdemeanors. These include drug possession for personal use, check and credit forgeries, shoplifting and other thefts involving less than $950.

Because Proposition 47 is retroactive, it is expected to impact thousands of offenders who are currently incarcerated. The counties of Sacramento, Contra Costa, and Humboldt are among those who released inmates last week, while more than 4,000 prisoners could soon be discharged from state prison.

"It's a move in the right direction in terms of getting smarter in how we address low-level offenses that are driven many times by drug addiction and mental health issues," said Contra Costa Public Defender Robin Lipetzky.

Critics of the new law, however, say it will have a harmful impact on public safety, while doing little to help addicts and mental health sufferers get the help they need.

"I do think you'll see an increase in property crime," said San Diego County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Greenberg. Furthermore, with little incentive to seek treatment to avoid jail time, drug addicts will be less apt to attend rehabilitation programs, he added.

Like the state’s 2011 prison realignment law, Proposition 47 is largely intended to reduce jail overcrowding. A fiscal impact statement from the Legislative Analyst’s Office concluded that net savings from the new rules could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Read more about the impacts of Proposition 47 here.


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